The race for Michigan’s 37th State Senate District includes two Republican and two Democratic candidates, all of whom wish to replace Senator Howard Walker, who announced in 2013 that he would not seek another term.
The Tuesday Aug. 5 primary election will narrow the field—from the current four candidates of 105th District State Rep. Greg MacMaster (R-Kewadin), 104th District State Rep. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), and Democrats Phil Bellfy of Sault Ste. Marie, and Jimmy Schmidt of Central Lake—to one Republican and one Democrat who will face off in the Tuesday Nov. 4 general election. Candidates Wayne Schmidt and Jimmy Schmidt are not related.
Greg MacMaster is a former meteorologist and a disabled veteran of the U.S. Air Force, for which he served 10 years. MacMaster was also an instructor at Northwestern Michigan College teaching Aviation Weather and Forensic Meteorology and is a full member of the American Meteorological Society, a spokesperson for the FAA on related subjects dealing with weather in the aviation community and is an agricultural and Forensic Meteorologist.
MacMaster opposed the $350 million Detroit bailout plan, and the proposed gas tax increase
“Ronald Reagan once spoke of a Republican Party that held to a banner of bold colors, not pale pastels; a Republican Party that offers a clear choice for our citizens. That’s the Republican Party I believe in,” MacMaster stated in his announcement that he would run for the senate seat. “That means cutting taxes and government spending, reducing regulations, promoting responsible and transparent government, and protecting individual freedoms.”
He added, “Republicans have a clear choice in this primary. I’m a conservative. I have a proven conservative track record in the State House. I’m running for the Senate as a conservative. And when I’m elected I will continue to vote as a conservative.”
• Opposition to “Obamacare” – According to MacMaster, for the 85 percent of Americans that have health insurance, the access they have to cutting edge, life-saving technologies is among the very best in the world.
• Fixing Michigan’s Roads
– Dedicating a portion of gasoline sales tax to road repair
– Repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage laws
– Dedicate just 1 percent of the Use Tax for road repair, which raises $239 million alone
– Redirect excess oil and gas royalties from the already fully-funded and capped Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund
MacMaster’s other stances include being a leader in advancing military veteran issues, being pro-agriculture, reducing regulatory burdens, protecting natural resources and keeping in balance with recreation and private property rights, being pro-business, streamlining government and making common sense reforms.
Following are various votes MacMaster has made during his tenure:
HB 6024 – MacMaster voted against a measure that would have given local governments the power to impose targeted property taxes on industrial and commercial property deemed by the bill to be “especially benefited” by fire, police and ambulance services.
MacMaster also voted to repeal laws that impose a licensure mandate on auctioneers.
SB 347 – MacMaster voted against a move to authorize the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to use taxpayer money in reserve funds to buy ownership stakes in companies or nonprofits whose “primary purpose is to acquire ownership interests in multifamily housing projects.”
MacMaster voted against imposing a $1 per month surcharge on customer electric utility bills that would have used the money to provide low-income home heating subsidies.
HB 4633 – MacMaster voted not to require taxpayers/businesses to purchase new vehicle plates after 10 years, even if plates are still legible.
And, MacMaster voted not to increase the aviation and jet fuel tax.
Born in Inglewood, Calif., MacMaster is married with two young children. He has served as media representative for the U.S. Marine Reserve Toys for Tots for over a decade, is past-chairman, founder and past president of the Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve where he spearheaded and organized the first Underwater Tourism Summit in the Great Lakes region. He was appointed a member of the Michigan Underwater Salvage and Preserve Committee for two terms and is a Reserve Law Enforcement Officer (Marine Patrol) for the Northern Michigan Mutual Aid Dive Team with the Charlevoix County Sheriff Office. And, he is a member of the NRA.
Wayne Schmidt grew up in Traverse City, graduated from Traverse City Central High School in 1984, and attended the University of Chicago, majoring in economics and public policy. He is also a graduate of the MSU Michigan Political Leadership Program.
“A healthy economy continues to be the most important issue in Northern Michigan,” Schmidt stated in his announcement to run for the senate seat. “For hard-working families this means more jobs and the freedom to prosper. It also means the promise for their children and grandchildren to build their lives here rather than travel to a far off state to make a living.”
Schmidt has worked to fix Michigan’s roads by supporting using the state’s budget surplus. And, in March, he voted twice for over $200 million to fill the potholes in Michigan.
Bills Schmidt has sponsored and/or supported:
PA 3 of 2011: The primary legislation to provide $25 million in funding for the Pure Michigan promotion campaign.
PA 334 of 2012: A bipartisan package of bills to authorize circuit and district courts to establish veterans treatment courts, which would provide a treatment program for veterans who are substance abusers or mentally ill.
PA 266 of 2011: Reformed Worker’s Compensation to address waste and abuse, and limit liability in certain ways for employers in Michigan.
PA 348 of 2012: Part one of a two-bill package that made Michigan the 24th Right to Work state in the country, thereby prohibiting an individual from being required, as a condition of employment, from joining or paying dues to a labor union.
PA 197 of 2011: Removed Youth Employment Regulations
PA 15 of 2011: Removed Item Pricing Regulations on Retailers
PA 10 of 2011: Removed costly ergonomic regulations on job providers
PA 281 of 2012: Eliminated Bridge Cards for inmates
PA’s 38-45 of 2011: Eliminated MBT & Restructured Income Tax to be fair and equal for all taxpayers; reduced taxes by $641 million dollars in doing so.
PA 168 of 2011: Outlawed partial birth abortions
PA 277 of 2011: Lifted and removed the Charter School cap to give parents more education options
PA 129 of 2012: Gave Parents further opportunity by increasing the opportunity for cyber schools
PA 200 of 2011: Eliminated “lifetime” healthcare benefits for Legislators
Administrative Actions: Cut Legislator pay and reduced Legislator Office/Staff Budgets by 13%
After helping to reopen the Park Place Hotel in 1991 and a subsequent stint on the management team at the Grand Traverse Resort, Schmidt served as general manager of the Captain’s Quarters men’s clothing store in Traverse City. He was elected five times to the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners.
Schmidt has been a member of the Boardman Neighborhood Association, the Traverse City Kiwanis Club, the Economic Club of Traverse, the National Cherry Festival and the Downtown Traverse City Association.
He has also been involved with the Grand Traverse Area Right to Life Association and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. He is a member of the National Rifle Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ruffed Grouse Society and Trout Unlimited.
Schmidt was first elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2008, and is now in his third term.
He is chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee, vice-chair of the Michigan Capitol Committee, and also serves on the Commerce, Energy and Technology, and Financial Liability Reform committees.
Schmidt is married and has two children.
A retired college professor, Dr. Phil Bellfy has lived in Sault Ste. Marie since 1970.
His main reason for running for the senate seat is to protect the environment.
According to Bellfy, Michigan’s 37th State Senate District is the most environmentally-sensitive area of the state because it touches three of the four Great Lakes.
A U.S. Air Force veteran, Bellfy attended Lake Superior State College under the GI Bill. He graduated from Lake State “first in the class” of 1973 with a BS in Psychology.
He went on to get his MA in Sociology from Michigan State University in 1981, and a PhD in American Studies in 1995.
He taught at Lake State, Bay Mills Community College, Wayne State and Michigan State universities.
Bellfy retired from MSU in 2012, and is now Professor Emeritus of American Indian Studies.
His stance on major issues is as follows:
• The Right to Choose and the Right to Privacy are long-held Constitutional Rights.
• The recent move by the Republicans to make Michigan a “Right to Work” state is a devastating blow to all working people. He pledges to introduce legislation on his first day in office to repeal the “Right to Work” law.
• Bellfy believes the Republicans should be ashamed of their move to tax seniors’ pensions.
• The current Legislature in Lansing is dismantling the public school system. The worst thing they did was to cut school funding in order to finance a billion-dollar tax break for their wealthy friends.
• Keeping the jobs we now have, rebuilding our infrastructure, creating new jobs through investment in solar, wind, etc.
According to Bellfy, tourism is heavily dependent on maintaining its clean and green environment.
Also, he supports creating jobs by rebuilding roads and schools, repairing bridges, upgrading the electrical grid and bringing high-speed internet to cities and rural communities.
Bellfy is also concerned about the reliance on fossil fuels.
“We’re ground-zero for fracking, and the Enbridge pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac has exceeded its design-life,” he states. “It’s no longer a question of if it will break, but when will it break. We need to move away from oil and toward renewable sources as quickly as possible.”
Bellfy has been involved in environmental activism for over forty years, at the Tribal, International, National, State, and Local levels. His most recent initiative, announced on Earth Day, is his “Double-Wall, Or-Not-At-All” campaign for the Enbridge pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.
Democrat Jimmy Schmidt, who claims he leans heavily toward Republican ideals, grew up in Allen Park.
Schmidt has worked as a farmer and for his father’s manufacturing facility Monarch Machine Products Co., which built various components for the military.
Schmidt became president and CEO of the company in 1990, just a year after Schmidt started his own corporation buying and selling industrial machinery throughout the Midwest.
In 2004, he created the Schmidt Foundation, a non-profit organization which supports charities that help the disabled. One such recipient is the Northwest Michigan School for the Blind & Deaf, of which Schmidt founded and is the director.
Schmidt received his associates degree from Mott Community College in 1968 and he attended the Henry Ford Technical Trade School in Dearborn from 1968 to 1970 where he obtained his journeyman’s card in tool and die. He also attended the Detroit College of Business from 1990 to 1992 where he received his degree in accounting.
Schmidt also attended Baker College in Flint, and Northwestern in Traverse City where he received his paralegal degree.
Schmidt’s platform includes support of the following:
• Michigan Fair Tax, which would eliminate personal property taxes and the state sales tax and would replace it with a goods and services tax of which healthcare, food and other necessities are exempt.
• Green energy and hydroelectric power, wood chip burning generators and the “double wall or not at all” for the Enbridge pipeline under the Mackinaw Straits.
• Restructuring of the Michigan Public Service Commission to help consumers receive more competitive utility rates.
• Light rail rapid passenger train service from Grand Rapids to Lansing, and Ann Arbor to Traverse City and Petoskey and eventually Mackinaw City by 2016.